2 December 2022

Roving reptiles, Christmas crafts, market stalls and more at National Zoo and Aquarium

| Evelyn Karatzas
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zookeeper Ty Culbert

Zookeeper Ty Culbert outside the cheetah enclosure. Photo: Evelyn Karatzas.

A community-based, sustainability-focused Christmas market is coming to the National Zoo and Aquarium this Saturday.

The Conservation Christmas Markets, hosted by the ConZoovation Team, will showcase stallholders selling a variety of affordable and environmentally friendly handmade gifts.

The inaugural markets from 11 am will also give children and their families the chance to enjoy visits from furry and scaly zoo residents, participate in Christmas-themed crafts and purchase sweet goods from a bake sale.

Australian National Zoo and Aquarium zookeeper Ty Culbert said the markets would highlight the amazing initiatives of the ConZoovation Team and the like-minded conservation organisations they supported.

“The idea is to promote sustainability and to give people environmentally friendly Christmas gift options,” Ty said.

“We want to support the community, and since there’s a lot of people out there who make and produce amazing things, this is a great opportunity for us to do so.

“We tend to get the community coming and supporting the zoo and what we do here anyway. But this event is definitely going to bring people back who may not have been here for a little while to see the new things going on.

“They’ll also get to see some of the new conservation groups involved. Then they might get inspired too.”

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Ty said the zoo had always been well supported by the Canberra community and visitors, especially during the school holiday breaks.

“They always tend to return when we do first-time events,” he said.

“So if this event is successful, I think they [the zoo] will hold it again in the future.

“The community just loves to be involved and see what’s going on here.”

More than 15 stallholders will sell their handmade, environmentally friendly products at the markets, including craft items, homewares, little local treats and more.

Ty said zoo staff would also participate in a buggy Christmas decorating competition.

“Everyone who comes along will get to see just how far people will go with their decorating in a parade-type style,” he said.

“The best part is that whoever wins, will get $1000 to donate towards any conservation group of our choice. So it’s definitely a good cause.”

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The Conservation Christmas Markets will also feature roving reptiles and creeping critters.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for those scared of snakes to face their fears or come and enjoy them from a distance,” Ty said.

“There’s going to be a lot of Christmas-themed enrichment for the animals too, and some free craft activities for the kids.

“We’ve got a lot of new stuff to see at the zoo, as well as upgrades to the enclosures. There will be so much to come and check out.”

He said it was a perfect event for everyone.

“I’m expecting a lot of families to come because Christmas is definitely a family time. But also anyone who loves markets, loves animals and those into conservation and sustainability.”

The Conservation Christmas Markets open this Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm.

The zoo will also host World Cheetah Day on Sunday 4 December featuring training demonstrations and play sessions with the cheetahs.

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